Dark Empire - Distant Tides
Self Financed
Melodic Heavy Metal
6 songs (36'46)
Release year: 2006
Dark Empire
Reviewed by Ben
Surprise of the month

Jens Carlsson is really getting around these days. His powerhouse band Persuader is one of the best current acts on the scene and the high profile debut of Savage Circus has given his name even more clout to throw around. Now with his involvement in Dark Empire he has taken part in the crème de la crème of the underground melodic metal scene. If you want to know more about the history of this group then head on over to their homepage by following the link at the top of this review, it is quite a storied tale and an interesting read. Leader and founder of Dark Empire, Matt Moliti, has composed six stellar tracks that make up Distant Tides which are all of a high enough quality that it would be hard to convince someone that this is an entirely self financed release. Quickly I must point out that alongside Lilitu’s Memorial, this is the best independent release I have seen in terms of packaging, presentation, and overall sound. Beautiful illustrations adorn the cover and sleeve and the sound quality is quite potent even if you won’t confuse this for a Finnvox or Sonic Pump Studios production.

Clocking in at thirty six minutes, this is a short album but it is by no means marred by its brevity. Each individual track is powerful and engaging and when the cd reaches its end you immediately want to press play to hear the album just one more time again and again. We Will Never Die kicks things off with its highly energetic melody and hymn like refrain. Jens’ vocals take on a different style than his ever famous Hansi Kursch mode, at times he reminds me of a young Dio. Add this to the sparse death vocals he provides on the battle anthem Northern Sky, and Dark Empire is so far his most varied work as a vocalist. Speaking of death vocals they crop up on more than one occasion with the frolicky Rainbow styled rocker A Soul Divided and the mid tempo pounding title track. Matt takes over the dark duties on these two numbers and his use of out of the ordinary singing gives the songs a healthy dose of vitality. Since Matt is a guitarist and all guitar albums have to have an instrumental to show off their skills, this album’s instrumental showcase The Final Vision closes the cd. Just shy of hitting the eight minute mark this track stands out from the rest by having a decidedly more prog feel to it reminding me of some of Symphony X’s better moments.

Even though Dark Empire is Matt’s baby he handles his role in the band professionally and admirably. Unlike many guitarists who decide to release solo albums with their names attached to the title, (Yngwie, Impellitri) he has taken the time to actually create songs and not just six minute vehicles to allow him to solo away until we grab our stereos and throw them out the window. Dark Empire is one of the freshest groups to release an album this year and this comes highly recommended by yours truly.

Killing Songs :
A Soul Divided, Northern Sky, The Alchemist
Ben quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Dark Empire that we have reviewed:
Dark Empire - Refuge to Ruin reviewed by Cory and quoted 85 / 100
Dark Empire - Humanity Dethroned reviewed by Ben and quoted 91 / 100
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